Triss

 /   /  By Emma Birches
Stone Soup Magazine
May/June 2004

By Brian Jacques, Reviewed by Andrew Glick

triss book cover

Triss by Brian Jacques; Philomel Books:
New York, 2002; $23.99

A book of adventures. Comic and distinct personalities. Several story lines that wittily intertwine together, make the book Triss by Brian Jacques an intriguing read.

Triss is a squirrel slave at Riftgard, a kingdom of evil rats. Triss and two of her friends escape from Riftgard and Kurda, an evil princess who rules it. Kurda’s efforts to capture them are what drive the story plot onward.

While they are playing cat and mouse, Scarum, a hare from a mountain who is looking for adventure, and Kurda show that they have the most recognizable individual personalities. Kurda is good at insulting others and does it often. She will make a mistake and blame it on someone else. She missed a tossed turnip moving during her sword practice and is it her fault? Oh no. Kurda’s accent makes her seem all the more evil. Kurda’s eyes blazed with anger at her mistake. “Stupid oaf! Ven I say trow {throw}, you trow dem proper. Trow high, vot do you tink I am? You t’ick {thick} mud brain bungle paws!”

Scarum is my favorite for he gives you the most sense of “I know what he would do here.” Like most hares, where food is, Scarum is. He tells others that he is everything good there is to be, like a fearsome shark slayer sometimes and at other times he’s the son of a very wealthy family. “Wot wot’s” and “I think I’ll jolly well do that” and his growing appetite make him irresistible to laugh at. Even though Triss is one of the main characters, she does not show as much personality as the others.

This novel is like our lives, just much smaller. It has similar concepts such as gravity, animals, and sun/moon, unlike Lord of the Rings where there is magic, huge evil creatures created, and different landforms. It’s simply the squirrels’ and otters’ perspective on their lives with normal problems such as big animals and predators and how they overcome them. They live in a great, huge, safe Redwall abbey with mostly peaceful creatures in it. This is essentially our world but in much earlier times, like King Arthur’s and Camelot’s day. Now we have large societies and countries, but it used to be tribes, roving bands, castles, and some empires fighting each other with bows, arrows, and swords and that is just this.

Brian Jacques explored many ideas involving determination with each key character at various points in the story. At the beginning, Triss and her friends were captured and, in jail, did they get out after slaving at those bars? They could have figured they were going to a better place and just died. However, through persistence, they succeeded in escaping. Kurda showed fierce determination to recapture her slaves by bringing her best rats to capture. She did not care what happened to her rats. She was brave by doing what her father was petrified of.

This novel is excellent, just like all his others in the Redwall series, but the personalities the author creates in this one just pull you in and make you a part of Redwall’s legend.

triss andrew glick

Andrew Glick, 11
Pekin, Illinois

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